Monday, February 25, 2013

Hope Still Floats

I missed Valentine's Day this year. That's not a big deal in the grand scheme of things, and it was not due to any fault or ignorance on my part. I was sick with Man Cold before, during, and after. (It was actually more flu than cold. I was in rough shape for a few days.) Valentine's Day was on Thursday. When Saturday rolled around, I finally felt well enough to go to the grocery store to buy some essentials and make up for my absence. In addition to stocking the pantry and fridge, I bought cards, cupcakes, and balloons for the two women in my house.

Love will keep us afloat.
More than a week later, I noticed those balloons are still flying strong. I pointed them out to Peanut, who then reminded me of the time last year that the "Balloon Fairy" left balloons for her. She said those balloons also lasted a long time, "probably because they were magic." I thought it was amazing that she remembered that one little gesture from an unknown "fairy." Magic, even.

The story of the Balloon Fairy is also magic. I included it below because I think it is worth sharing again, even reading again if you've read it already:

 (originally published 7/12/12)

"Where there is charity and wisdom, there is neither fear nor ignorance." -St. Francis of Assisi (My dad's favorite saint.)

It was something so small, so silly, so insignificant in the grand scheme of things. Regardless, I don't think I've ever felt more helpless as a parent. Even when she's sick, there's always medicine, orange juice, and a good cuddle on the couch with Doc McStuffins on the television all day. A scrape on the knee gets a Band-Aid and a kiss. Then there are those times when she's upset, but she's most likely tired or just being ridiculous. So you listen to her frustration but ultimately, and kindly, tell her to get over it.

But what do you do when there is nothing you can do?

As Peanut and I left daycare one day recently, I was in more of a rush than usual thanks to traffic, putting me way behind on my evening checklist. Despite being forced to wait an extra 20 minutes for me; despite the fact that she was one of just two children in her class still waiting to be picked up, Peanut was no worse for the wear. After all, she had balloons. Two. A yellow one and an orange one. So I loaded my arms with all of her artwork, homework, trinkets, and tools and we headed out.

"Do you want me to carry your balloons so we don't lose them?" I asked. "You can carry your lunchbox for me." Because this is the stuff blog posts are made of, she, of course, answered "no thank you."

And what do you think happens next?

No balloons were intentionally harmed
during the making of this blog post
Halfway to the car, she let them go. Even though I warned her to hold on to them. Now I know what you're thinking, and no I did not tie them to her wrist like a good parent would. Read: in more of a rush than usual. Still, parenting fail.

I made a feeble attempt to catch them. But my arms were, as you may remember, full. And my vertical leap is, as you may imagine, lacking. Peanut was devastated. Rightfully so. I can still see the look of horror and heartbreak on her face as she helplessly watched those balloons float away to destroy the ecosystem of some far-away land. She herself gave her own feeble jump in desperation. Arms stretched to the heavens, tears streaming down her now sobbing face. Her screams echoing through the near-empty parking lot.

You never expect to feel helpless as a parent. This was my first time. The first time I could remember, at least. (And I blog about almost everything that happens, ya know.) I didn't know what to do. I wasn't prepared for this. Helping her grieve the loss of a friend. (I know that sounds ridiculous.) Despite our rush, I stopped. I entered that moment with her. Because however irrational this was, it was real. She wasn't making these feelings up. I hugged her for a long time and I told her I was sorry. That I wish it hadn't happened. That I wish I could make her feel better. She wept softly into my shoulder as I carried her to the car. As I buckled her into her seat I said, "You know where I think those balloons are going? To Popsie in heaven, so he knows we were thinking of him on Father's Day." (This was the Wednesday after Father's Day.)

She continued to whimper on our way to pick up My Director at the train station. That is, until I told her that was enough. After all, even the most present of dads has his limits when it comes to crying over a couple of lost balloons. And that was the story I was going to write for you, until someone rewrote the ending for me...

The next day we pulled into our driveway and were surprised to find a bunch of balloons tied to our front door. They were for Peanut, and they had this note on them:

Turns out, the "Balloon Fairy" is the mom of a boy in Peanut's class. Her son went through the exact same thing on the same day, with the balloons he had received from the same batch. As a result, someone had left him balloons from the Balloon Fairy. After she had heard the same thing had happened to Peanut, she took it upon herself to pay it forward.
Balloon Fairy: Who knew, right?
The kindness and thoughtfulness of someone who took the time to do that to make my daughter happy was nothing short of inspiring. An unnecessary, heartwarming gesture of charity. Those are the best kind. Some day we will do the same for another child. Thanks, Balloon Fairy. We believe.

The charity of a stranger helped us out of a tough situation during a recent storm. You can read about it here. 


  1. YOu mean ther is NOT a balloon fairy?

    Dude...stop this man cold crap that women made up. You were sick. You had the flu. Why do women get sick and whine in their blogs, and when their husband gets ill it is that fake Man cold crap! Hey.. we get sick too! Don't defect to the away team!

    Heart warming story on the balloon fairy!

    1. "Man Cold" is a thing around here. Click the link I post in the post and read it. It's satire.


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